Approaching Death: Philosophical and Cinematic Perspectives

October 30, 2017 -
5:00pm to 7:00pm

We will analyze issues associated with approaching death by examining cinematic works as seen through a philosophical lens.  Specifically, we will show film and televisual excerpts that do not simply depict individuals approaching death but that also highlight important questions around that process.  In each case, we will concentrate not only on the humanistic and philosophical issues that the excerpts foreground, but also on the cinematic techniques with which they do so.

In 21 Grams we will discuss the notion of Cheating Death in the story of a man who has a life-saving heart transplant but then is racked by survivor’s guilt and a morbid fascination with the individual whose death saved him.  In Wit, whose narrative focuses on an English Professor’s bout with cancer, we find a case of Intellectualizing Death as, through direct address to the audience, the protagonist talks about each stage of treatment and dying.  In My Life Without Me, we will highlight the practice of Concealing Death in the story of a woman, diagnosed with cancer, who refuses to tell any of her family, friends, or lovers about her plight. The television show The Big C, which features another woman with a diagnosis of cancer, illustrates and critiques the practice of Allegorizing Death and conceptualizing the relationship between a patient and cancer as a “battle.”  In examining The Sea Inside, we will foreground the notion of Embracing Death in the story of a quadriplegic who wishes to die but is frustrated in so doing by the Spanish legal system and the Catholic Church.  Defying both, he arranges for an assisted suicide. In Cherry Blossoms, we will examine The Value of Knowing that Death Is Approaching. Finally, in Amour, a film that portrays the physical and emotional challenges and burdens that face.

Location and Address

602 Cathedral of Learning